Free Meals & Dining Credits at Hotels
While your best options for free meals at hotels are typically going to be in all-inclusive hotels or hotels with free solid lounge access, there are also a number of hotels that offer meals or meal credits. Some of these hotels provide meals by default, and others require you to have a credit card, status, or otherwise to take advantage of the perk.
I don't like to reinvent the wheel, so for a solid list of options (especially breakfast), go to this article by Million Mile Secrets.
a. some breakfast basics
b. where free breakfast for all is offered; It provides more details than MMS regarding what kinds of breakfasts are offered among free breakfast brands for non-elites.
c. where free breakfast based on status is offered.
d. where free breakfast based on credit card is offered.
I wasn't surprised that Money Crashers was missing all 7 (as of 4/18/22) of the below list (created prior to me seeing the Money Crashers article, after I saw the MMS article), as I suspect that Money Crashers used the MMS article to help publish its own list.
Below I'll go over some areas that both articles don't touch as of 4/18/22.
Clarion Collection hotels (part of the Choice Hotels chain, 1:2 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Rewards) in Nordic Europe (Norway & Sweden) typically offer a free breakfast & dinner.
MMS mentions "Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection, Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, or Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection" but don't mention:
1. "The Hotel Collection" by Amex ($100 Onsite Credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities for stays @ least 2 nights)
2. Mastercard has its own hotel collection of a few thousand hotels, and many of them include free breakfast that wouldn't typically be free at the same hotel, though it's important to check the rate on Mastercard vs the rate elsewhere, especially if you already have status with that chain.
3. Virtuoso is another option and rates typically match the "best available rate" for the hotel, while providing perks like daily breakfast for 2, a special Virtuoso benefit (typically $100 property credit). OMAAT has a solid article on the subject here. Use this link to go through his partner Ford's Virtuoso portal.
4. Signature Travel Network's hotels & resorts (over 1100) typically come with free breakfast for 2 & sometimes a credit that can be used for dining, though you'll find booking and pricing aren't as readily as available as many other sources since it's geared for their travel agents.
5. Relais & Chateau Visa Infinite perk: at >140 hotels you'll get complimentary breakfast
6. Chase Sapphire Hotels (while there's only 18 of them as of 4/18/22, it provides 4th night free, daily breakfast for 2 per room at all hotels except 1, a $30 dining perk at all hotels except 1, & more perks)
7. Caesars Diamond members & above (ongoing status matcheable annually with Wyndham, which is easy to acquire via the Wyndham Business Earner credit card like I have) provides an annual $100 celebration dinner, though buyer beware. With parking fees in Vegas or elsewhere in the Caesars portfolio (appx 50 properties), the free parking conferred via Caesars diamond status is also a plus.
8. The MMS article is from 2020. Since then, IHG has updated its terms to include free breakfast for Diamond members.
9. Some room rates include free breakfast, but they typically price higher even if it's a discounted breakfast with the pricing depending on what you get.
10. Kimpton (IHG) sometimes provides free breakfast with a secret password that can change from time to time.
For free breakfast attained easily just by holding onto a card (excluding breakfast in a hotel lounge):
MMS mentions how you can help your ability to get breakfast by spending on the Hyatt credit card, but came out prior to the Hyatt business card, which helps you get nights toward globalist status faster with the same amount of spending.
MMS also mentions the Hilton options to get status that can get you breakfast.
In that article MMS does not mention the other cards that can help you get breakfast or other snacks/drinks.
Another 2 that would take holding onto and a lot of spending to get free breakfasts at a number of chains within Marriott's portfolio would be the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant or Ritz Carlton Reserve, each of which gets you Marriott Platinum status with $75k in spending per year, which gets you Marriott status at a number of hotels. Both cards also give bestyou a $100 property credit (that can be used for dining if desired) for a 2 night minimum stay at Ritz & St Regis properties on a special $ rate.
Sonesta has an easy option for free continental breakfast when a lounge isn't present with their $75/yr credit card. Their portfolio of properties is lower than the other hotel chain credit cards I'm mentioning, though.
Wyndham Diamond status (i.e. from the Business Earner card with no spending threshold required) gets you a welcome amenity at check-in with a complimentary snack or beverage at select hotels.
IHG Diamond status, which now offers free breakfast, is attainable after spending $40k/yr with their newer cards, but I typically wouldn't recommend performing that spending.